Sunday, 27 December 2015

It is Sunday December 27th and the third holiday for Christmas.
Tomorrow is officially Boxing Day although many shops were open for business on Saturday. In spite of pouring rain the Sales were in full swing and I enjoyed dipping into my new book token at W H Smith’s where I bought a charming little book that I would otherwise have handled and admired but put   back on the shelf.
It is: - A GUINEA PIG.
Pride and Prejudice

Its illustrations are delightful as well as hilarious, the story reduced to a brief paragraph on each page.
In total contrast my second choice is classed as Thrilling; Completely Riveting; a Rollercoaster.
It is Kimberley McCreight’s  Where They Found Her. Can't wait to start it.

I hope you have all enjoyed Christmas as much as I have with good company, presents and cards. One late card especially pleased me because some kind person had written a message on the envelope. 
Delivered to Derbyshire in error.  Please redirect.
Happy Christmas Mrs Elgey.
 If by any strange quirk this happened to be you then many thanks. It really made me smile.

Happy New Year to all you unknown friends across the world, especially so many in USA.
 I do appreciate your interest in my Blog and hope you will continue to read it in the coming year.  Very best wishes to you all as well as to my friends in the 
British Isles.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

David Almond, the well-known author of "Skellig" (1998) as well as many other novels, has just been awarded the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize with his latest novel, "Song for Ella Grey".

He was interviewed on Radio 4 this morning - not because of his success but because a lady was complaining that she bought the book for her grandchildren (young teenagers) but had returned it to the shop after reading the story herself.  She said that it ought to have been classed as Young Adult not Teenage. Its contents were unsuitable for younger children.
This developed into a discussion into what is being read by 12 year olds and how children vary in their ability to understand and enjoy literature.

David Almond's voice took me back a lot of years to an evening with Wear Valley Writers when he was the visiting speaker.  He showed us his manuscript of Skellig with the hope that it might be published!  Some time later he returned with the Carnegie medal it had won for him.
He passed the medal round the group and we were able to hold it and dream of success for ourselves even if it never reached quite such dizzying heights.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

  My last novel BRIDGE TO THE MOON has a NEW COVER.
  No change to the story of course.
      Its original cover was a dark one - purple - which seemed   appropriate at the time.          
      The new one is in bright colours with a happy little girl called Marguerita who becomes 
      the focal point of the story.
      I hope you enjoy it.

     Available from Amazon.

Friday, 6 November 2015

The Bishop’s Park was always a favourite place for local people to relax and spend their free time.They left the market place and walked under the clock tower and along the wide drive that was edged with close-cut lawns and beautiful flower beds until they passed the Castle, safely locked behind high metal gates. People stood and stared through those gates and were overawed by this building that had been home to Bishops of Durham for centuries. This was not for ordinary people like them.
The park itself was equally impressive with its magnificent trees, its stone bridge and its wishing gate.  It also had an ancient Deer House that looked down on to the river and the perfect spot for summer picnics. Even the parkland seemed sacred so that there was always a sense of reverence there.
But that has all changed now. The Castle’s gates stand wide open. The bishop’s library is a cafĂ© where visitors enjoy delicious food as they sit next to ceiling-high bookshelves. The public are welcomed to exhibitions and concerts and local people volunteer to help. It is our castle now and very much appreciated.
Last Saturday the park came alive for Hallowe’en when parties of visitors were led through the blackness with the ghostly shapes of the trees stretching their branches round them.      
To add to the frightening atmosphere ten groups of young people emerged from those trees to act out murder scenes, so realistic they made even my blood run cold.                                                                    

In the darkness  young actors tell the tale of local murderess, Mary Anne Cotton.
Ring-a-Ring o' Roses and the Plague.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The world is changing.  

We read it in the papers. We see it in the News’ bulletins.  Thousands and thousands of people are  trudging across foreign lands and defying the dangers of the seas, to escape from Syria and its neighbours.  All in the hope of finding peace and security in Europe.

Some countries have welcomed them. Others have rejected them on the grounds of their vast numbers. But wherever they settle they will alter the future of that place. New ideas will be introduced.  Young people will mix and make homes together and raise children of mixed nationalities.

As I think back to my own childhood I can just remember the Second World War and all the problems and hardships it produced. I heard of the Kinder trains that brought Jewish children from Germany to this country and the families who welcomed them. One good-looking boy joined my class at junior school.

But I really do remember the Jewish business men and their families who settled in the Bishop Auckland area. These people needed unlevened bread which a family bakery produced.
As the years went by and the war ended they opened shops and factories that provided work for the area. A new estate of beautiful houses was built in our part of the town to accommodate the key men from these businesses. It was always referred to as Jerusalem.
Over the years these incomers changed the whole area and brought prosperity to the town as the Syrians may well do to their adopted countries. We wish them well.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

July 2015

2015 has not been the best of summers.
And yet in spite of the inclement weather or perhaps even because of it
the countryside has been alive with colour - an absolute delight.

  A few weeks ago the lanes and footpaths behind my home were shoulder-high with Cow Parsley (or Old Man’s Tobacco as I knew it when I was a child.) May-blossom brightened the hedges and the fields were carpeted with buttercups.

Further afield it was pink Valerian – and sometimes white as well – that took my breath away.
Obviously the sea air suits it.

Who could resist this public footpath?

And in my garden the Wedding Day rose turns from white to pink as it bends to peep into my high window and climb all round it. Its perfume is delicate and delightful.

Lucky the passengers who rode 
in this air balloon one fine sunny morning in June.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A May Day by the Sea.

 Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a charming little town on the north-east coast. Its Funicular Tramway is one of the oldest and possibly most famous in England, dating from Victorian times.
On Saturday with the sun tempting me away from all the chores in the garden I
jumped on a train and spent a glorious day on the firm sandy beach that stretches for miles.
I walked briskly by the water's edge, my collar turned up against the cool breeze blowing straight from the sea. Donkeys waited patiently for small children while a dozen riding-school ponies cantered past me through the shallowest waves.

The ponies return at a  more leisurely pace.
As the tide turned the breeze dropped and the temperature rose.                                                              Families appeared.  Castles were dug, kites flown and a general                                                              feeling of enjoyment spread round the beach.

The Pier is Victorian too.

Eventually it was time to leave and I gladly headed for the Tram and the swift ride to the top of the cliff. I admired the beautiful stained glass windows as we went . Before the Tram reached the promenade I stood and looked back at the beach. With the sun shining it must surely be one of the most beautiful places on this coast.

As One Goes Up the Other Comes Down.
I am told on good authority that this is due to a Victorian water counterbalance system
which is very unusual and shows the Tram's age. 

Goodbye Saltburn.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Fridays will never be the same again.  Simply because my lovely "milk girl" has given up her job.
Yes, I am one of the few people who still have milk delivered to the door. Whatever the weather, the milk is on the step in the morning after being delivered in  a white van decorated with black splodges reminiscent of a cow.
At teatime on Fridays this dynamic young woman parks the van and rushes to the door to collect my money. It takes less than five minutes but in that time she tells me her plans for the weekend - the meals she'll be having with friends or the Hen-party she's going to in Benidorm.  She shows me her healthy-looking tan produced on a sun-bed that afternoon.  We discuss the clothes she's wearing or the twin sons that make her so proud.
But now she's going to work in a factory on day shift so she'll no longer be getting up at 1 o'clock in the morning and driving in all weathers.  The reason is that the milk round has increased so much that the work is just too hard for her.
She gave me a big hug when she told me the news and another before she walked away down the path.  She was a wonderful character and I'm so pleased she was my "milk girl."

Friday, 20 March 2015

At 9 o'clock this morning I watched the eclipse of the sun, simply and easily from the front windows of my own home. It was amazing and wonderful to see the moon gradually cover the sun until only a narrow sliver was left .
I remember the last eclipse in 1999 and how I went into the country with some of the family and walked to the farthest edge of a big field to watch from there. We were impressed that day but no more so than I was today.
Unfortunately my little camera refused to catch that last sliver of sun but it did capture the general effect of the sky and the clouds.
Untimely darkness

A glimpse of the sun

The sky clearing.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

I feel like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland who said "They're Painting the Roses Red" except that in my case it would be "Painting the Hyacinths Pink."

A few weeks ago I bought this bowl already planted with very healthy-looking Hyacinth bulbs.  Its label promised that the flowers would be pink which meant they'd match my cushions . Obviously somebody made a mistake!
Strangely enough the exact opposite happened a few years ago when I bought a rose labelled white.  It's the healthiest rose bush in the garden with prolific flowers but they're a beautiful shade of red.

My next remark should obviously be "Off with Their Heads."

Monday, 9 February 2015

It seems that I was not alone in admiring Saturday's amazing sunset.

Today's Northern Echo describes it as "stunning" and prints four photographs taken from
locations across the north-east from Holy Island to Durham City.
A weather forecaster says that it was "the result of the sun reflecting off ice crystals
inside lots of thin cloud at 25,000 to 30,000 feet.

I am so pleased that it spread as far as Bishop Auckland.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Once again I was so surprised by the evening sky that

I had to rush for my camera.

In ten minutes these striking colours

changed to palest pink.

Magnificent to Watch.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Ladybird  Books were 100 years old on January 12th this year.

This brought back so many memories of reading the little books aloud and sharing the stories with all the children I knew. When I looked on my shelves today I realised that I'd kept 22 of these delightful  books and as I scanned through them I saw them not only as entertainment
but as social history as well.

At the time I simply thought the books were beautifully illustrated fairy tales or stories about small animals behaving like humans. Later there were the Key Words Reading Schemes  and for older children, the books on Nature, full of information about British birds or bats or big game in Africa.  For even older children there were the “Achievement” books telling the story of furniture across the centuries or the development of the car and so on. There were also adventure books and historical ones.  There was even a special publication to commemorate the engagement and wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.


published in 1959 
Children had milk in glass bottles at play-time.

School meals were being served.

From "THE PARTY" 1960.
Notice the boy's hair is very short while the girl has plaits

The bedspread is candlewick - very popular at that time.
The little girl wears an elaborate pinafore to work in.

"PLAY WITH US."  1964.

Now both children are in  jeans and t shirts and have 
casual shoes.  The boy's hair is longer than before and the girl's hair is worn loose.

From one of the "ACHIEVEMENTS BOOK" 1974.

Modern Chairs and their Designers.

"A Ladybird for a Royal Occasion."

I will put all these wonderful little books back on my shelves and treasure them as I've always done.  I hear the more recent ones are different shapes and sizes which seems to spoil the fun.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year to all my Blogging friends.

Christmas has come and gone in a very happy way this year; spent mainly with family from toddlers to teens and with their parents and grandparents; even the dogs have been part of the celebrations..
We've had meals together and all the fun of  unwrapping presents; their bright paper transforming the plain carpet into a sea of colour..

But now another year has begun.  My good resolution is that each morning I will continue to write as well as finding some time for reading later in the day.
Recently I've been introduced to novellas, slim books that can be digested in an afternoon - J L Carr's charming tale "A Month in the Country."  "Death in Venice" by Thomas Mann and Ian McEwan's "Chesil Beach." But in contrast I am now attempting to read a doorstop of a novel, "The One Plus One," by Jojo Moyes. With 516 pages I felt completely daunted at first but am now absorbed in its story-line of a single mother struggling to cope against all the odds.

Good luck with your New Year resolutions whatever they may be!